Views from the Boardroom...
With Angela Brock-Kyle - Founder & CEO, Audit Chair & VIP Member
Angela’s keys to success:
- Integrity. The best governance practices have integrity at their core. Focus on the greater good. Be transparent, courageous, inclusive and a good listener.
- Balance interpersonal and technical skills, realism and optimism, long-term and short-term perspectives.
- Curate your personal brand—make sure that it’s consistently the best representation of you.
Angela, how did your journey to the boardroom as a corporate director begin?
In hindsight, I took steps that prepared me for being on that path without knowing it. During my career, I spent more time than most with executive leadership and in the boardroom, and as a board member at national brand non-profit organizations. When I decided to become a professional director, I had built the skills, reputation and brand fundamentals that transition to corporate board work.
What characteristic or behavior did you exhibit that you believe was a critical factor in your successful candidacy for your first board appointment?
I developed and implemented a 3-pronged strategy: First, transforming myself from a run-of-the-mill non-traditional candidate (I’m not a former CEO or CFO) into a recognized board candidate with a strong brand. I invested in myself by obtaining a Governance Fellow certification from the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and working aggressively to develop a strong set of board documents. Second, given that 80% of seats are filled through networking, I participated in events attended by directors and those working closely with directors. I made them aware of my interest in board service while keeping two factors top of mind; “fit” is as important as all other criteria combined, and people will always remember how you make them feel. Lastly, I benefited from my reputation through a combination of business expertise, strong interpersonal skills and sponsorship support from CEOs and leadership team colleagues.
How did you prepare – in every sense: emotionally, intellectually, practically – for your first board meeting and in what ways did that preparation pay off?
To prepare for the first public company board meeting, I did a deeper and broader version of the preparation I had done for my board interviews. Before interviewing for a board, most people have a long list of questions and resources they plan to use to learn about the company. Along the way, you’re likely to become aware of more potential resources to help you get to know both the company and other directors. I continued to dig into those resources so that I was able to ask better questions and form closer connections with my board and management colleagues. I’m more relaxed when I’m well prepared on both fronts, which makes me more willing to engage and contribute valuable perspectives.
What has surprised you about the reality of board service versus the expectations that you had coming in – in a positive or maybe not so positive way?
All boards and companies can do things better, in some cases including mastering certain governance process basics. Some organizations are so focused on running their business that they don’t devote enough time and resources to enhancing their relationship with shareholders, a practice that can cause serious challenges with activists.
What have you learned about yourself through serving as a corporate board director – how have you grown?
I bring a valued perspective to board deliberations and engagement, greater than I initially realized. By following my instincts about when and where I can maximize my impact, I have grown by learning more from a 360-degree view of the firm. These perspectives and experiences positioned me to chair the audit committee for Infinity Property & Casualty, a new challenging and rewarding experience.
What is the ONE essential piece of advice you’d give to other senior women who are on a journey to their first seat at the table? This could be from your personal experience, or perhaps advice that you’ve received and found to be true from someone within your network or at large.
Carefully develop and enhance your brand. Beyond your professional and interpersonal skills, everything you do counts. How you dress, behave and engage are all key components of your brand. Respond warmly and promptly to everyone; you never know where the next opportunity will come from.
Angela Brock-Kyle is Founder and CEO of B.O.A.R.D.S., a privately held governance, strategy and risk advisory firm leveraging her 25 year career with TIAA. In addition to advising on governance, risk and strategic matters, she sits on public and non-profit boards. Ms. Brock-Kyle chairs the Audit committee and serves on the Nominating and Governance committee of Infinity Property and Casualty Corporation (NASDAQ). She serves on the Audit Committee, Compliance and Risk, and Governance Committees of the Guggenheim/Rydex Funds Board and the Investment and Compensation Committees of the YMCA Retirement Fund. Ms. Brock-Kyle was recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors as one of 100 influential directors in 2015 and as a Director to Watch by Directors & Boards magazine in 2016.
“Views From The Boardroom” is an exclusive series from Women In The Boardroom, where corporate board directors share their experience, insight and wisdom and their view from the boardroom. Corporate board directors interested in participating should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Interview by John Danielowich for Women in the Boardroom.